Michael Young thought his season was over when he heard a pop in his hamstring while running down the baseline.
So the bad news for the playoff-chasing Texas Rangers that their All-Star third baseman will be out at least two weeks could have been much worse.
"The second you hear a pop in your hamstring, you think something's wrong and it's going to more than a month recovery time," Young said Wednesday. "So for them to tell me there's a good chance I'll be available the last two weeks, that's great news to me. That's all I'm going to focus on."
An MRI confirmed his injury sustained running out a grounder Tuesday night was a strained left hamstring, not something much worse. He also had a blood platelet injection designed to accelerate the healing process.
Still, the loss of Young for any time is a significant blow for a Texas team in the hunt for its first playoff appearance in 10 years. The Rangers face an unprecedented extended stretch without their longest-tenured player, in his ninth season.
"There's no way to replace Michael. He's the leader," Marlon Byrd said. "We've got to hold down the fort until he comes back. ... At this time of the year, the way he's swinging it, the way he's been carrying us, you can't even put into words."
Since becoming a full-time player in 2002, Young has never missed more than two consecutive starts. He even managed to maintain that streak last season, playing 155 games after breaking a finger on each hand and sustaining a groin strain.
"His hitting, defense, leadership, work ethic. He's one guy who shows up at the ballpark who everybody feeds off of," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But does it give us an excuse to have a lull? No. We're not going to have a lull."
The Rangers went into Wednesday night's series finale against Toronto trailing AL wild-card leader Boston by 3 1/2 games and the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels by 4 1/2 games. Texas made its last playoff appearance in 1999 after winning its only three division titles in a four-year span.
Young was sixth in the American League with a .322 batting average. His 48 multihit games ranked eighth, and he had hit in 18 consecutive games for the longest active streak in the majors before going 0 for 2 with two walks in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
Young got hurt in the second game, pulling up after crossing first base for the final out of the third inning.
"The boys can kind of keep the ship afloat for a while, and I'll be ready to go to work those last couple of weeks," Young said. "I've been here for nine years and this is a golden opportunity, so it's disappointing to miss these games. At the same time, when I'm doing my rehab, I'm going to focus on the fact that I'm going back with something to play for."
Chris Davis was in the starting lineup at third base Wednesday night, and Hank Blalock was at first base. Davis had started eight of his nine games at first since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he played mostly third base. Davis had started 70 games at first for the Rangers earlier this season before being sent down.
Omar Vizquel, the 11-time Gold Glove shortstop who is a backup infielder for Texas, or Esteban German could also play third. Vizquel made a diving backhanded stab on one play, then threw the batter out from his knee after replacing Young at third Tuesday night.
"He's the engine of this team. He's the one to get everything going," Vizquel said. "We're really going to miss him now, especially this last month when every game is important. ... It's really sad to see one of the best hitters going down for a little bit."
Young, a five-time All-Star shortstop before moving to third base this season, said he was sore from the injection but would be aggressive with his rehabilitation. While there will be no baseball activity right away, he will take on a different leadership role.
"Just break out my pompoms and be a cheerleader," Young said. "I'm not worried at all about the baseball aspect of hitting and throwing. That stuff will come back to me in a day."